Saturday, November 2, 2013

Tachikoma Fascination

I managed to complete the 2002 26-episode anime series known as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and needed somewhere to direct my thoughts. Then I remembered that I had a blog.

GitS:SAC is a kind of gem in the vast ocean of anime. It's comparable to an adolescent boy who doesn't watch porn in the sense that you won't come across many of them unless you're looking real hard. You see, SAC is deep. And when I say deep I mean really deep. Really, really deep. Sometimes even too deep. But when it doesn't get lost in its own world and lose me in the process, it's a fantastic take on the future and tackles many political, philosophical, and technological themes that other anime series wouldn't dare lay their hands on. Kind of reminded me of a more convoluted version of Un-Go in that regard.

For those who aren't aware, the series is set in the far future and follows Public Security Section 9, an organisation specialising in cyber warfare, as they solve crimes and take down criminals. Pretty straightforward. The series itself is interestingly split into 2 different types of episodes: Stand Alone and Complex. The Stand Alone episodes are episodics which serve to give the viewer a bit more insight into the workings of Section 9 and give the characters some time to develop, while the Complex episodes follow a single case known as The Laughing Man incident. It's a good concept, but sometimes acted as a double-edged sword, like when they decided to show a really good Complex episode and proceeded to bombard me with so many Stand Alone episodes that I forgot everything about the Laughing Man by the time I reached the next Complex episode.

But forget all the deep themes, action, stellar animation, great music, and even the Major's ass. What captivated me most about the show were the four-legged robots known as the Tachikomas.

The Tachikomas are robots who work for Section 9, mostly seen in the Stand Alone episodes. They're everything you could ask for: cute, blue, and equipped with lethal weapons. On a side note, they also got 3D movement nailed waaaaay before Attack on Titan even existed.

The true slayer of titans. Eat shit, Eren.

The few episodes that focused on the Tachikomas weren't anything special by GitS standards, but they truly shone for me because they're such interesting creatures. You see, these Tachikomas contain AIs which almost make them human. They have everything that, well, defines "human". Free will, ability to communicate, curiosity, and even individuality. I'm sure that if they were given human bodies, they would resemble little children running around and having fun. Yet they aren't human. Of course, you could argue that it's because their bodies don't contain any natural human parts, but let's consider the main character of the show: Major Motoko Kusanagi. She's a cyborg whose body is almost entirely (if not entirely) prosthetic, and yet she is considered human. What I like about the Tachikomas is that they're aware that they aren't human and want to know why. One Tachikoma in episode 15 concluded during his conversation with Batou that they were digital and humans were analog, and that's why one could never become the other. The series refers to the line that seperates robot from human as a "ghost". Quite a fitting name, if you think about it. It exists, but we can't prove that it exists. Actually, that's not quite right. It exists because it can't not exist, and thus it is a ghost.

I admire the Tachikomas more than anything else Stand Alone Complex did simply because they managed to raise many interesting questions and get me invested in them all while speaking in cute, high-pitched voices. There's got to be some kind of award for that.
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